It’s only April, but Blue Jays utility man Chris Coghlan may be a contender for best play of the MLB season with his incredible swan dive over the catcher. During the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game between the Blue Jays and Cardinals, a triple sent Coghlan speeding toward home in a game tied 2 to 2.
A low throw from right field to Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina looked to be on target and a sure out, and Coghlan had to think fast.
“I was coming around third, and I looked to my left to see where the ball was,” Coghlan said. “I saw it was going to beat me, and then, probably the last step or two, I saw Yadi go down. Your first thought is, ‘OK, I’m going to run him over because he’s right over the plate.’ Then I was thinking, since he was down, ‘Why don’t you jump?’ I just jumped, and the rest is history.”
He went airborne, clearing Molina’s head and landing with a perfect somersault across home plate.
The Jays went on to beat the Cardinals 6-5 in the 11th inning.
If it looked like something out of a movie, that’s because it was. In “Major League II,” Willie Mays Hayes made a similar move, but that was a scripted Hollywood comedy and it likely took multiple takes to pull off. Coghlan had one opportunity, and he did not miss it.
Arguably the most impressive aspect of the play was tagging home. As Coghlan was twirling in the air, he also had the presence of mind to reach down with his left hand and touch the plate. It wasn’t quite Vince Carter over France’s Frederic Weis from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but it may have been baseball’s version.
“After I had thrown it, my momentum kind of took me down,” Piscotty said. “I didn’t really see it well because the ball had gone by the cutoff man, and he was kind of in my way. I didn’t really see it. I don’t even know what happened.”
Said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a former catcher: “Guys do what they have to do. Impressive play.”
The reaction from Coghlan’s teammates after the game showed how surreal the moment was. Players gathered around video screens to watch the play on a loop. Stroman commented on how that was something you could only do in video games. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons predicted people would be watching the clip for the next 100 years. The line of the night, though, belonged to starter Marco Estrada.
“When I saw Coghlan do a front flip over Molina, it was like I saw a unicorn or something,” Estrada said. “It’s just something that doesn’t happen. You might not ever see that again. I’m glad I saw it. I’m going to remember that forever.”
Watch the video:
And here’s the Willie Mays Hayes version: